Flora Miranda SS2020 "Cyber Crack"
The digital world and new technologies have become part of fashion for some years now. From smart-clothes to connected jackets, revolutionary materials, seamless patching, and 3D printing, for some fashion brands, innovation is at the very heart of their creative process and this is the case for Flora Miranda.
“Information is power and we have a lot of information today. But at the same time, we feel powerless because the digital world is based on programming.”
Flora Miranda was born in Salzburg where she grew up surrounded by artists and musicians, before turning to paint. She then left Austria and moved to Antwerp to study fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. In 2014, she graduated and, two years later, launched her first collection. She also famously collaborated with Iris Van Harpen on several collections. Her latest collection, “Deep Web” explores how a machine can learn fashion and make clothes. Inspired by transgender model Amanda Lepore, “Deep Web” publicly explores what “Machine learning truly means” while challenging feminine silhouettes. With this collection, Flora Miranda calls upon those who feel like their system is being cracked. Her main message is: ‘Take charge! Take power! Be creative, educate yourself, learn to code and understand the system so nobody can crack it up. Nothing in this world is good or bad, it’s always what we perceive it to be.’
With her SS20 collection exhibited during Paris Fashion Week, she presented the cracks in our – in your system, playing with the borders of our perception by challenging meanings of visuals. This work is in collaboration with the Italian artist Esther Stocker, who is known for her work with cracking paper and cracking grids that transform our perception. Flora Miranda organized a real show with music provided by the German electronic musician Alec Empire, who not only has a long history of fighting against cyber-surveillance and the misuse of the internet for political purposes but who also gave the show the perfect mood: Cyber Crack.
Can you explain what “machine learning” is?
Machine learning is the technology behind ‘Artificial Intelligence’. Huge databases of information are shown to a computer, by which the computer develops something like ‘knowledge’ and can act more organically and complex through this knowledge. Since the 1960s this is one of the most exciting technological developments, and artificial intelligence is often at hand in our everyday life, even if we do not notice. In fashion, artificial intelligence is mostly used to manage the data of target groups and customers. It is not commonly used in design processes yet.
How did this process influence your work and the creation of this new collection?
The collection ‘Cyber Crack 2020’ talks about the fact that artificial intelligence has a huge influence on our life today. How are the power positions shifting because of that? Shall we embrace AI or be afraid of it? The clothes themselves are not designed or produced through machine learning this time, however, one of the dresses’ patterns is visually generated through coding, and we serve several mathematically intricate build-ups of the garments: For example, the ‘Transformer' dress, in which black long spikes are floating in a web of white tulle. Or the ‘Fatality’ dress, which is cut by a machine of tiny knives following our digital drawing.
How did this idea of approaching gender through technology come to you?
First of all, gender and sexuality is something a fashion designer always has to consider. We[fashion designers] are responsible for how we present the body, we add an important part to gender expression. Furthermore, fashion is there to make a person look good, if this means to accentuate the body, to mysteriously hide it or to abstract it into a pure form that has nothing to do with the ‘natural body’ anymore.
If we imagine a future when machines design our clothes - they will just as much have an impact on our gender identity. Looking at how artificial intelligence works, namely the categorization of our world into pure data, we quickly end up with stereotypes and strict labels: Man = ?, Woman = ?, ? = ?
As we are developing a ‘creative fashion AI’ ourselves, I definitely hope to break up such strict gender labels and to confuse the computer categories in such a way that gender can be treated in a contemporary and inclusive way.
What do you think is the future of technology?
What we research and invest our time and money today is the future of technology. I like to always remember that technology is a human-made field and it completely depends on us how it will evolve. We make the future now.
For you, will fashion evolve as well?
I hope to be able to put my own dreams of technological evolution in fashion into reality. Personally, I desire to use coding as a creative language, so I can understand and shape artificial intelligence for fashion design and garment production. Saying this, it will be important to me that there is a strong artistic value in everything I create if it involves technology or not.
Do you think Haute Couture is obsolete in our modern society?
Looking at fashion history, Haute Couture’s function is to inspire a trickle-down effect. In Haute Couture, new shapes in tailoring and craft techniques were developed. At some point, Haute Couture became a more conservative field, which had space only for ball gowns and cocktail dresses. These classical dresses perfectly and beautifully serve their purpose, I have nothing against them. But what we can revive in the field of couture is the crossing of innovation and art. To empower Haute Couture again to be the inspiration and research tool for the fashion industry.
By Alexa Bouhelier-Ruelle
Photos provided by designer